SUMMARY.--The Unjust Steward.
His Shrewd Forethought.
Making Friends with the Unrighteous Mammon.
The Scoffing of the Covetous Pharisees.
The Rich Man.
The Beggar at His Gate.
One in Abraham's Bosom; the Other in Hades.
The Rich Man's Petition.
The Great Gulf.
Hearing Moses and the Prophets.
1-7. There was a certain rich man. The three parables of the
last chapter, the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son, are a
rebuke to the self-righteousness of the Pharisees: the two of this
chapter are directed against their covetousness.
Had a steward. An officer who had charge of his estates. Eliezer
was the steward of Abraham; Joseph that of Potiphar
(Gen 24:2-12 and 39:4).
A man of business to take charge of the property is still common in the
Old World on large estates. The Christian, to whom God has entrusted
the earthly care of property that belongs to the Creator, is thus
(Matt. 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27).
Wasting his goods. Dishonest; an embezzler.
Give an account. All will be called to such an account, at
death, or sooner. Sometimes, because we have proved faithless, God
takes the property out of our charge sooner. Dismissal from God's
service, whether at death or sooner, is the consequence of wasting the
I cannot dig. He was not accustomed to, or willing to come
to, hard labor.
To beg I am ashamed. He ought to have been more ashamed to prove
faithless to his trust.
I am resolved. "All at once, after long reflection, he
exclaims, as if striking his forehead: I have hit it."--Godet.
Many a rich man reaches a similar resolve when about to die.
That they may receive me. He will put his Lord's debtors under
such obligations to him that they will give him a home.
He called every one. The debtors; those that owed rent or on
A hundred measures of oil. Olive oil, one of the commonest
products of Palestine. The measure contained about sixty pints.
Take thy bond. The contract.
Sit down quickly. In great haste, lest the dishonest transaction
might be interrupted.
Write fifty. The throwing off of fifty measures would be
equivalent to several hundred dollars.
Hundred measures of wheat. The wheat measure was about eleven
bushels; the twenty remitted would be 220 bushels.
8. His lord commended the unjust steward. Commended not his
faithfulness, but his wisdom in looking out for a home when about to
lose his place. The one point taught is a prudent foresight that uses
earthly resources to provide for a time when these resources will fail
9. And I say unto you. The parable has ended and Christ now
makes the application.
Mammon of unrighteousness. Mammon is equivalent to money, or
wealth; called the "mammon of unrighteousness," not because it is
acquired unrighteously, but because most use it unrighteously, treating
it as their own, when they are only stewards. What is the use the Lord
charges us to put it to? It is: "Make to yourselves friends by means of
the mammon of unrighteousness (riches), that when it shall fail
(when you can use it no longer), they shall receive you into eternal
tabernacles" (heaven). It is strange that there is any difficulty over
this passage, as translated clearly in the Revised Version. The only
friends who can receive us into heaven are the Father and the Son.
These are, then, the friends we must secure. During life our means must
be so used as to please God and to lay up eternal treasure. If we use
it as a trust of the Lord we will secure such a friend. Instead of
hoarding we must make heavenly friends.
11, 12. If ye have not been faithful. If one is faithless in an
earthly trust, how can he expect to receive a heavenly trust?
Another's. That which belongs to God. All who have property
should understand that it is another's.
Your own. The true riches, because they become a part of our
being, the inalienable possession of the redeemed.
13. No servant can serve two masters. See note on
14, 15. The Pharisees . . . covetous . . . scoffed. They
understood the parable as an attack on covetousness and, like the
worldly wise, thought his doctrine foolish.
Is an abomination. Man exalts wealth, but the love of
wealth, "the root of all evil,"
is "an abomination in the sight of God."
16. The law and the prophets. See note on
17. Easier for heaven and earth to pass. See note on
18. Every one that putteth away his wife. See note on
The Rich Man and the Beggar
A parable, also, showing the consequences of a worldly spirit and the
worldly use of wealth. "Here, as in other cognate parables, great
wisdom is displayed in bringing the whole force of the rebuke to bear
on one point. It is not intimated that this man made free with other
people's money, or that he had gained his fortune in a dishonest way.
All other charges are removed, that the weight lying all on one point
may more effectively imprint the intended lesson. To have represented
him as dishonest, or drunken, would have blunted the weapon's edge.
Here is an affluent citizen, on whose fair fame the breath of scandal
can fix no blot. He had a large portion in this world, and did not
seek--did not desire--any other. He spent his wealth in pleasing
himself, and did not lay it out in serving God or helping
19. A certain rich man. Not one whom the world would call great, but
eminently respectable; one whom the worldly would admire, while the
poor man was one whom the covetous would despise.
Clothed in purple. The purple was anciently the royal color, the
gorgeous hue of the imperial robes, and hence the very term, the
purple, is still used to signify the royal dignity.
And fine linen. The finest apparel.
Faring sumptuously every day. Enjoying not only the most
sumptuous fare on the table every day, but every sensual enjoyment. How
the world would admire his lot in life!
20. A certain beggar. Beggary, such as is here depicted, is much
more common in the East than with us, and, in the absence of any more
systematic provision, alms-giving to the poor was insisted upon by the
Psa. 41:1; 112:9; Prov. 14:31).
Named Lazarus. "Does not Christ seem to you to have been reading
in that book where the found the name of the poor man written, but
found not the name of the rich? For that book is the Book of
Life."--Augustine.Laid at his gate. Carried there because unable to walk. At the
gate, where so many were passing, would be a favorable place for alms.
Full of sores. Cutaneous sores are most common in connection
with abject poverty.
21. The dogs . . . licked his sores. How abject his lot!
Helpless, a beggar, glad to get crumbs, the dogs around him licking his
sores! Such a lot the world would despise.
22. The beggar died. What became of his body is not stated. It
may have been cast into the potter's field.
Was carried by the angels. Here is one who in his life had not a
single friend, and now, suddenly, not one, but many angels wait upon
him.--Luther. His body may have had no pall-bearers, but angels
carried his soul.
Into Abraham's bosom. The place of rest where Abraham welcomed
his children; heavenly bliss. The Jews spoke of those who went to
Abraham's heavenly abode as in Abraham's bosom.
The rich man also died, and was buried. We are to infer that he
had a splendid burial; his body was placed in a costly tomb, but where
23. In Hades. The abode of departed spirits, and to the wicked, a
place of punishment.
Being in torments. His wealth has failed him; his good things
Seeth Abraham . . . and Lazarus. A proof of recognition beyond
Afar off. Widely apart in condition, character, and space.
24. And he cried. The only instance in the New Testament of
prayers to the saints.
Father Abraham. His trust was in his fleshly descent. He said,
"We have Abraham to our father."
Send Lazarus. He seems to think that he has some claims on him,
in return for his crumbs.
Dip the tip of his finger in water. He only dares ask the
Tormented in this flame. "Flame may be regarded as a figurative
term, to represent acutest suffering of which a spirit is susceptible
by a material image of misery the most dire."--Greswell.
25. Son. Abraham recognizes the fleshly tie. His answer is
Remember. Analogy gives us every reason to suppose that in the
disembodied state the whole life on earth will lie before the soul in
all its thoughts, words, and deeds, like the map of the past journey
before a traveler.--Alford.Thy good things. He was of the number who receive their portion
in this life, instead of that good part which shall never be taken from
them. He had preferred the world and its rewards, and had obtained
them. But he had lost the world to come. Thy is emphatic.
Earthly possessions and enjoyments were his choice.
Now here he is comforted. The saved leave all sorrows behind
when they leave the earth; the lost leave all their joys behind.
26. There is a great gulf fixed. It is permanent and impassable.
There is no bridging over the abyss. Destiny has been decided in
27-31. Send him to my father's house. This is introduced. not to
show an interest in his brethren, but to call out the reply:
They have Moses and the prophets. If they would refuse to
hear the word of God, they would refuse to repent at the bidding of a
Neither will they be persuaded, etc. This was demonstrated
in the case of Jesus himself. The Jews refused to accept Christ, though
Moses and the prophets testified of him. They asked for a sign, and
"the sign of the prophet Jonah,"
his resurrection from the dead, was given. Still they refused to
repent. Unbelief is due, not to a lack of evidence, but to a rebellious
heart. The seat of skepticism is in the moral nature.